Back in the days when I was building my career I went to many courses that gave me all the tools and knowledge I needed in how to train a team of people. Working as a manager for a branded pub/restaurant you constantly have to train, retrain and refresh your team. So understanding how people respond to training and what techniques you can implement to get the best results are an incredibly important part of the job role.
After deciding to become a stay at home mum whilst pregnant with my third baby, those days are well and truly behind me.
Or are they?
I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself recently to up my game as a mother. Hayden, my eldest is most likely on the autistic spectrum so is behind in many aspects of developmental progress, especially surrounding speech, language and social interaction. This also, in turn means Ellis (middle boy) has had a few issues when it comes to speech and social development. So much so, we are now being referred to speech and language therapists. Something, like most parents, I can’t help but blame myself for. Even though for the majority, these things are out of my control.
I have been really racking my brains recently on how I can best engage and interact with my children for them to learn effectively. And I keep coming up with the usual things; play, books, puzzles, activities, experiences and so on. Of course all of them will work with time but ultimately I’m just guessing these tools, situations and experiences will teach my children in the way I hope it will. Whereas actually I could be much more equipped if I understood how they learn best.
What if I was to explore and implement the type of things I had learnt whilst I was progressing my career? It would need adapting, but surely exploring that thought wouldn’t do any harm?
One of the first things I learnt was that people all have a preferred learning style.
So I thought I would share my knowledge. Maybe it could help you?! Maybe understanding how different people learn will help you identify your own children’s learning style. Giving them that all important first step in life!
‘Learning style’ is basically a term used to describe how a person best takes in and interprets information. Everyone learns slightly differently depending on what engages their brain the best. There are many different breakdowns, theories and interpretations out there but fundamentally it comes down to three main styles; Visual, Auditory & Kinaesthetic.
A visual learner takes in more with visual stimulation, such as picture books, and images. An auditory learner will absorb more information from sounds, such as the spoken word. A kinaesthetic learner is someone that prefers to ‘do’ things and learn through physically having a go at things themselves.
It would be quite easy for us, as parents to assume most of our children are kinaesthetic learners, as most toddlers appear to learn through play and experience. But do they? If you really watch your child whilst they are learning and playing you may notice some other habits they have that point you in a different direction.
So how can you tell which style your child may prefer?
A visual learner will:
- Intently watch their teacher/parent whilst being taught.
- Will take great enjoyment out of picture books, displays and visual aids
- Will prefer to share their learning through pictures
- Will recognise things by sight rather than sound.
An auditory learner will:
- Will prefer a verbal explanation
- Will prefer discussion and conversation over solitary learning
- Will enjoy group work
- It is also quite common for an auditory learner to enjoy teaching others
A kinaesthetic learner will:
- Need to keep their hands and/or body busy. They generally find it hard to sit still.
- Will prefer practical hands on activity
- Takes great enjoyment out of physical activity
- Will use movement as memory aids
Of course there is some crossover. For example; I am a kinaesthetic learner. I learn best by ‘doing’, but when I was revising for my GCSE’s (all those years ago) I listened to music whilst I was doing it. When it came to the exams, if I came across something I struggled with, I would remember the song or album I was listening to rather than the actual subject. That would then allow my brain to access the information I was taking in at the time. So there is also an element of auditory learning in there too.
How can understanding these elements help you teach you children?
When planning activities and games with them, think about what they enjoy most. Do they get a lot out of visual stimulation? Think about books you can buy or rent from the library. Would lots of drawing and writing activities stimulate their brain further? Do they prefer to listen? Maybe you could look introduce nursery rhymes and musical instruments into your play. Do they prefer ‘doing’ things? Explore the woods, the beach, or the local nature reserve. Get them out in the garden with water and sand. Think of activities and games that are filled with movement.
All of these things are still using play and experience, but using the right technique could mean your child is taking in so much more than you realise!
Have you identified your child’s learning style? What do you do to stimulate their little minds?